Sketch of a Mental Image: Spring and Ashura

Sketch of a Mental Image: Spring and Ashura*

Introduction

The phenomenon of myself
is a blue illumination from a
temporary organic alternating current light bulb.
(A compound of every transparent spirit)
A blue illumination
from a karmatic alternating current light bulb
burning so certainly yet
flickering restlessly, restlessly
along with landscapes and all things.
(The illumination is preserved       the bulb is lost)

This is a faithful sketch of a mental image
twenty two months
from the direction I perceive to be the past
each individual chain of shadow and light
(All things flicker with me
And everything perceives simultaneously)
preserved until now
in lines of paper and mineral ink.

People, galaxies, Ashura, sea urchin—although these
consume the dust of the universe        breathing air or salt water
and a vivid ontology could surely be conceived for each
in the end they are nothing more than a landscape of the spirit.
Yet each of these faithfully recorded landscapes
is just as it has been recorded and
if that is nothingness than this is just as nothingness itself is and
it is shared to some degree by everything.
(Just as everything is all that is within me,
it is also all that is in each and every thing)

But contained in the Holocene epoch of the Cenezoic period’s
enormously bright accumulation of time
within the light-dark shading that is equivalent to no more than a mere point
(or a billion years of Ashura)
these things which were supposed to be so faithfully recorded
already change their structure and disposition.
Yet nevertheless it is possible
that myself and the printer have a tendency
to perceive these things as unchanging.
Just as we perceive our sensory organs and
landscapes and people
And just as we merely perceive in common,
Records and history            geological history—
the various data of each—
(according to the limitations of karmatic space and time)
amount to no more than our perception.
Perhaps in another two thousand years
a geology two thousand years different will develop
according to overwhelming proof that emerges steadily from the past
and we will think that roughly two thousand years ago
the blue sky was filled with colourless peacocks
and up and coming collegiate scholars will excavate exquisite fossils
from among the frozen nitrogen in
the top layers of the atmosphere
or perhaps even mankind’s enormous invisible footprint
will be discovered
on the face of layers of sandstone from the Cretaceous period.

Each of these hypothetical propositions
will be asserted within the fourth continuum**
as the nature of the mental image or even time itself.

January 20th, Taisho 13 (1924)

Miyazawa Kenji

Translator’s notes:

*Ashura – One of the six domains within the realm of desire from buddhist cosmology (part of the 31 paths of rebirth); the beings within this realm. Asura (jealous gods), like humans, are both part good and part evil. Their life is more pleasurable than that of humans, but they are plagued by envy, etc.

Order of the domains within the cycle of reincarnation, according to Japanese Buddhism:
Tendo – God Realm
Jindo – Human Realm
Shurado – Asura (jealous-god) Realm
Chikushodo – Animal Realm
Gakido – Preta (hungry ghost) Realm
Jigokudo – Hell Realm

**The Fourth Continuum – this term appears to involve Kenji’s original interpretation of the sutras and buddhist teachings. Mindstream = Buddhist moment-to-moment continuum of awareness

Original Japanese Poem:

わたくしといふ現象は
仮定された有機交流電燈の
ひとつの青い照明です
(あらゆる透明な幽霊の複合体)
風景やみんなといつしよに
せはしくせはしく明滅しながら
いかにもたしかにともりつづける
因果交流電燈の
ひとつの青い照明です
(ひかりはたもち その電燈は失はれ)

これらは二十二箇月の
過去とかんずる方角から
紙と鉱質インクをつらね
(すべてわたくしと明滅し
みんなが同時に感ずるもの)
ここまでたもちつゞけられた
かげとひかりのひとくさりづつ
そのとほりの心象スケツチです

これらについて人や銀河や修羅や海胆は
宇宙塵をたべ または空気や塩水を呼吸しながら
それぞれ新鮮な本体論もかんがへませうが
それらも畢竟こゝろのひとつの風物です
たゞたしかに記録されたこれらのけしきは
記録されたそのとほりのこのけしきで
それが虚無ならば虚無自身がこのとほりで
ある程度まではみんなに共通いたします
(すべてがわたくしの中のみんなであるやうに
みんなのおのおののなかのすべてですから)

けれどもこれら新生代沖積世の
巨大に明るい時間の集積のなかで
正しくうつされた筈のこれらのことばが
わづかその一点にも均しい明暗のうちに
(あるいは修羅の十億年)
すでにはやくもその組立や質を変じ
しかもわたくしも印刷者も
それを変らないとして感ずることは
傾向としてはあり得ます
けだしわれわれがわれわれの感官や
風景や人物をかんずるやうに
そしてたゞ共通に感ずるだけであるやうに
記録や歴史 あるいは地史といふものも
それのいろいろの論料データといつしよに
(因果の時空的制約のもとに)
われわれがかんじてゐるのに過ぎません
おそらくこれから二千年もたつたころは
それ相当のちがつた地質学が流用され
相当した証拠もまた次次過去から現出し
みんなは二千年ぐらゐ前には
青ぞらいつぱいの無色な孔雀が居たとおもひ
新進の大学士たちは気圏のいちばんの上層
きらびやかな氷窒素のあたりから
すてきな化石を発掘したり
あるいは白堊紀砂岩の層面に
透明な人類の巨大な足跡を
発見するかもしれません

すべてこれらの命題は
心象や時間それ自身の性質として
第四次延長のなかで主張されます

大正十三年一月廿日
宮沢賢治

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